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The Walen book actually has exactly what you say, prompts for pen etc. While recoding however we decided not to record them so the rhythm is not lost. Also most of those things are quite easy to guess.

MacW,

Sorry to disagree but if the point of the Walen/Callan method repetition is to enable the student to answer the question correctly then the student must know the relevency of the question so as to be able to automatically answer correctly. Without these prompts the student has no clue as to what there answer should be. Missing these prompts out would more likely cause the student to lose the rhythm. Conversly, by including the prompts on the cd the rhythm will not be lost as it will then mirror the rhythm in your classes. In my opinion therefore, the prompts need to be on the cd. I would advise you to reconsider and include the "prompts".

Secondly, especially as this is the "Book 1" introduction to Thai and 100% of the true beginner (and many of the false beginner) students will be unable to recognise the characters, I would also advise you that each new word's spelling (and its order) needs to be included on the cd when each new word is introduced. Yes, I know your teachers are suppposed to do the spelling in class but from what I have seen the lack of alphabet knowledge when beginning is a major obsticle for many students that I see seriously struggling ( :D:D:) ) with this in your classes and, as the purpose of the cd is (I assume) to assist the students in your classes then, they need this on the cd too. I can read most of the words anyway (false beginner :D ) but the provision of the spelling is definately required by real beginners and would not detract from flow (again, it would mirror your proper classroom practices) and it would reinforce the word's spelling for those (like me) that can recognise the characters but are not yet competent spellers. At this beginning level, both would surely be beneficial. I would think that the spelling in book 2 onwards would also benefit from the spelling of new words for the same latter reasons (reinforcement, and mirroring class practices).

Surely the cd should be in line with the Walen/Callan method and not cut what some may consider two of the very important features, namely the teacher's actions/prompts and the spelling?

I would hope you are looking to produce a quality product to support what you purport to be a quality course. It would be a shame to sacrifice the quality for a small saving on the time and/or cost saving whilst producing the method's cd product.

Regards.

.

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As you see this forum is not exactly full of people who complain about Walen.

Of course this forum can't be full of people who complain about your school simply because you're a major forum sponsor and negative comments or harsh criticism is forbidden by Forum Rules. :)

What a shrewd way to keep a positive spin on things, doncha think? :D

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Surely the cd should be in line with the Walen/Callan method and not cut what some may consider two of the very important features, namely the teacher's actions/prompts and the spelling?

I guess they're worried people could just buy their course on CD and not bother paying the much higher classroom fees. I was always trying to get my union-system school to make audio of the reading texts but they flat refused. The excuse was they wanted students to listen to real thai spoken by the teacher and interact in conversation, not sit passively listening....I was never convinced! Its business protection - i'm not necessarily criticising it, you can see it from their point of view, but it is a pain if you're paying to go to the school anyway but you can't get any resources to do further practice at home.

:)

Edited by SoftWater
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The Walen book actually has exactly what you say, prompts for pen etc. While recoding however we decided not to record them so the rhythm is not lost. Also most of those things are quite easy to guess.

MacW,

Sorry to disagree but if the point of the Walen/Callan method repetition is to enable the student to answer the question correctly then the student must know the relevency of the question so as to be able to automatically answer correctly. Without these prompts the student has no clue as to what there answer should be. Missing these prompts out would more likely cause the student to lose the rhythm. Conversly, by including the prompts on the cd the rhythm will not be lost as it will then mirror the rhythm in your classes. In my opinion therefore, the prompts need to be on the cd. I would advise you to reconsider and include the "prompts".

Secondly, especially as this is the "Book 1" introduction to Thai and 100% of the true beginner (and many of the false beginner) students will be unable to recognise the characters, I would also advise you that each new word's spelling (and its order) needs to be included on the cd when each new word is introduced. Yes, I know your teachers are suppposed to do the spelling in class but from what I have seen the lack of alphabet knowledge when beginning is a major obsticle for many students that I see seriously struggling ( :D:D:) ) with this in your classes and, as the purpose of the cd is (I assume) to assist the students in your classes then, they need this on the cd too. I can read most of the words anyway (false beginner :D ) but the provision of the spelling is definately required by real beginners and would not detract from flow (again, it would mirror your proper classroom practices) and it would reinforce the word's spelling for those (like me) that can recognise the characters but are not yet competent spellers. At this beginning level, both would surely be beneficial. I would think that the spelling in book 2 onwards would also benefit from the spelling of new words for the same latter reasons (reinforcement, and mirroring class practices).

Surely the cd should be in line with the Walen/Callan method and not cut what some may consider two of the very important features, namely the teacher's actions/prompts and the spelling?

I would hope you are looking to produce a quality product to support what you purport to be a quality course. It would be a shame to sacrifice the quality for a small saving on the time and/or cost saving whilst producing the method's cd product.

Regards.

.

Where did you get those saving ideas from? We were not trying to save neither time nor money, I was done the way it is done on purpose. It works very well, we tested it. And if this is a quality product or not time will show and the student's progress. We will be selling it as set with a book.

Walen School - Why Not To Try For Yourself?

www.thaiwalen.com

For priority service please register

www.dcs.walenschool.com/1mw290910.eng

Edited by macwalen
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.

Where did you get those saving ideas from? We were not trying to save neither time nor money, I was done the way it is done on purpose. It works very well, we tested it. And if this is a quality product or not time will show and the student's progress. We will be selling it as set with a book.

Walen School - Why Not To Try For Yourself?

www.thaiwalen.com

.

MacW,

1) The reason I added the time/quality(specification)/money(cost) is that all business developments(projects) are influenced by the "Project Management Time/Specification/Cost Triangle" or what others call the "Iron Triangle". If one of these points is moved it affects one or both of the other two.

For example:

You are given the options of Fast, Good and Cheap, and told to pick any two. Here Fast refers to the time required to deliver the product, Good is the quality of the final product, and Cheap refers to the total cost of designing and building the product. This triangle reflects the fact that the three properties of a project are interrelated, and it is not possible to optimise all three – one will always suffer. In other words you have three options:

  • Design something quickly and to a high standard, but then it will not be cheap.
  • Design something quickly and cheaply, but it will not be of high quality.
  • Design something with high quality and cheaply, but it will take a long time.

This was relevent to your cd product.

Additionally, if you are going to make/keep your school successful then it must also operate on these principles of it will eventually fail as it has failed to meet one of these:

  • Give the Students lessons that are long and high quality (amount of individual attention,teachers/books/cd's etc.), but therefore will not be cheap.
  • Give the Students lessons that are long and cheap, but therefore will not be of high quality.
  • Give the Students lessons that are high quality and cheap, but therefore lessons will be shorter.

2) I did not mention, but had recognised the point one poster (SoftWater) who commented on the reason why you may not make the cd fully featured is that that would lose you new students as they would not need your teachers. I both agree and disagree. The cd may lose you some but will be so beneficial to others that you will then see the 4x faster claim more likely to appear true and may get more students signing up if the teachers are of good enough quality to add value to the basic "repetition is all that is needed" argument. If the latter is true then there is no need to go to any school anyway as anyone can sit and repeat a few Thai sentences over and over alone. I believe your teachers, if they are quality teachers, and you lose the bad ones and take on good ones, can add a lot and that will be worth the fees to attend lessons (provided the price reflects the benefits that the teachers are adding).

3) However, point 3 here is more important than point number 1. Your response is likely to have also repeated a mistake you have previously made with other posts. You "appear" to have fixated your reply on the least relevent aspect as you find it easier to answer and in order to distract attention from your failure to answer the pertinant most relevent points of the post. In this case the important points were:

  • That the cd should be in line with the Walen/Callan method and therefore not cut what some may consider two of the very important features, namely the teacher's actions/prompts or the spelling.

This, whether intentional or not, does not give a good impression of your management, or the quality, of the school. You must answer ALL the raised points/questions.

4) Quote: "And if this is a quality product or not time will show and the student's progress."

Sorry, but I also need to disagree with this statement as basic scientific principles of proof apply. You have no control group/basis on which to measure "progress". Unless you produce two cd's, one with the prompts/spelling omitted, and one withe the prompts/spelling included, and then run a control group without a cd, against a group with the basic cd, and against a group with the enhanced cd, then you will not be able to measure the students comparative progress and therefore the quality of the relevent cd's. My money, as already stated would be on the enhanced cd with the prompts/spelling.

5) Advice was, as was the feedback, free. If you want a business consultant full time then make me a reasonable offer and I could be persuaded.

Regards.

(Reason for edit: Add Softwater's name)

Edited by Scottish Thailander
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Dear Scottish Thailander, I enjoy a good discussion.

To cover the points you mentioned. It took a long time to produce the recordings, both speakers had to learn the book to record it with a teaching style and not just read the text. Also there were many mistakes so a lot of lessons had to be rerecorded several times. So it was slow and hopefully to a high standard but as there was not an official release of the CD yet we need to wait for opinions as more listeners will give a more accurate evaluation of our work. Hope you agree with that.

You did not listen to the whole book but just one lesson. There are fewer and fewer examples of referring to charts in the book as the work becomes more advanced. Have you ever listened to the Callan Method recordings? There are also no prompts in Callan. So on this one you are losing a mark. The idea of the Walen Method came from Callan and not sure if you know but Callan is very successful. Judging by the student numbers Walen is getting more and more popular too.

The spelling and vocabulary recordings will be made as soon as we are able to complete book 3 to our satisfaction. In book 3 we do not spell words anymore as by that time our students can spell any Thai word almost like Thai people.

"Advice was, as was the feedback, free. If you want a business consultant full time then make me a reasonable offer and I could be persuaded".

I would be very much interested in you being our business consultant but you would need to pass an interview first. To be a Walen consultant you would need to be better at business than us so we can learn from you. How can we establish that? We are always looking for talent.

Both your advice and feedback were carefully read. Thank you.

Walen School - Judge By Results

www.thaiwalen.com

For priority service please register

www.dcs.walenschool.com/1mw290910.eng

Edited by macwalen
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Dear Scottish Thailander, I enjoy a good discussion.

To cover the points you mentioned. It took a long time to produce the recordings, both speakers had to learn the book to record it with a teaching style and not just read the text. Also there were many mistakes so a lot of lessons had to be rerecorded several times. So it was slow and hopefully to a high standard but as there was not an official release of the CD yet we need to wait for opinions as more listeners will give a more accurate evaluation of our work. Hope you agree with that.

You did not listen to the whole book but just one lesson. There are fewer and fewer examples of referring to charts in the book as the work becomes more advanced. Have you ever listened to the Callan Method recordings? There are also no prompts in Callan. So on this one you are losing a mark. The idea of the Walen Method came from Callan and not sure if you know but Callan is very successful. Judging by the student numbers Walen is getting more and more popular too.

The spelling and vocabulary recordings will be made as soon as we are able to complete book 3 to our satisfaction. In book 3 we do not spell words anymore as by that time our students can spell any Thai word almost like Thai people.

"Advice was, as was the feedback, free. If you want a business consultant full time then make me a reasonable offer and I could be persuaded".

I would be very much interested in you being our business consultant but you would need to pass an interview first. To be a Walen consultant you would need to be better at business than us so we can learn from you. How can we establish that? We are always looking for talent.

Both your advice and feedback were carefully read. Thank you.

Walen School - Judge By Results

www.thaiwalen.com

MacW,

Glad to see you are taking some points into consideration (i.e. the spelling), just a pity you are not fully completing the book 1 cd before issuing it. I assume that anyone who buys the book 1 cd now would get a free replacement cd when you add that additional spelling etc...?

Yes, I agree by book 3 the students may find it excessive as they are already at a good enough standard.

No, I have not listened to the whole book, as you only supplied a part of lesson 1.

Nor have I ever listened to the Callan cd's. However, just because they do not include the prompts does not prove that they also have failed to establish the most effective recording strategy and that you should copy this. I/we would need more info on this. Therefore, if you are scoring, which I was not, I would like to retain my "mark" until proof I am wrong is established.

I do not pretend to be "better" at business than you. Thailand, in my opinion, is full of failed, opinionated "experts" spouting a lot of nonsense about subjects that they know nothing about. I do believe that I can add to any business, giving a valid alternative opinion when required, adding support and constructive criticism when required, and contributing in many other ways to it's success. I have 20 years or so of international corporate experience, most of those in project management, IT, training/teaching, and consultancy roles. If you were serious and able to offer a reasonable package of renumeration, work permit, etc., then I would be willing to discuss things further. Obviously, not in detail on this forum.

Regards.

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My Experiences of UTL near Asoke

I am also looking for a suitable school. I have read through most of this forum as part of my research into Thai language schools and taken on board aussiebebe's comments about UTL . My wish list for a school -

1. the lowest level course is for the absolute beginner.

2. there is not too much pressure from teachers (a previous example was given by a forum member).

3. I like the transliteration used by Benjawan Poomsan Becker.

4. Sukhumvit area/ BTS.

Schools that I am going to visit when I am in Bangkok in a couple of weeks are Piammitr Language School, AAA Thai Language Center, and Unity Thai Language School. Any comments welcome on these or other schools against my wishlist.

Is there any impact on language schools programs for the rest of the year due to Swine Flu closures? Thanks.

COMMENT: This site should be renamed the McW site! dominated by McW.

Any language students out there able to help with my query as have no responses?

Regards SOLOMAN

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COMMENT: This site should be renamed the McW site! dominated by McW.

Any language students out there able to help with my query as have no responses?

Regards SOLOMAN

Agreed. I wish the moderator(s) would step in. I don't think sponsors should be allowed to post in the forum at all, it taints the whole atmosphere.

I think you'll find the Union system schools have the best reputation amongst former students, going by the posts on this site. I'd second that too. I went to the one at Chit Lom called AAA, but there are many, including UTL(?) at Times Square. Prices are pretty much the same for the different union schools, around 5K for a full-time monthly course (with slight variations). If you can't do full-time most will do evening or weekend private classes one-on-one for about 400bht/hour. that's what I did and I found it really useful. Some prefer to be in a class with others, but i'd rather go at my own pace and not have my time-wasted while the teacher goes over stuff for others that i don't need.

For a list of union schools just google 'union thai language'.

The link for the school i went to is here AAA

I'd thoroughly recommend them.

Good luck.

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Any language students out there able to help with my query as have no responses?

Regards SOLOMAN

The big thing you have to ask yourself is; what do you want to accomplish from your language lessons? Is your primary concern a visa to long-stay, or are you serious in pursuing thai language acquisition? While wanting both is not uncommon, learning thai takes time, and you must commit more than the governments minimum of 4 hours a week to the endeavor. You must spend time outside the class room, reviewing material, trying to talk to thais, and putting in the effort that language acquisition takes or you will be frustrated at your slow pace in learning.

In a survey I recently did with over 150 currently enrolled students (at a school which will remain nameless); the number one thing over 90% of the students wanted FIRST was to be able to actually speak thai to thai people!!! They didn't want to read first, nor know how to spell words hoping to pick up proper speech patterns by osmosis. Instead they wanted to know how to speak thai first, read second, and then perhaps write.

With the prime objective of speaking first there are several ways to accomplish this, in differing time frames. Most schools designed to teach the thai language to foreigners utilize their own form of phonemic transcription (often called Karaoke). Whether you go to UTL, PRO-Language, Learning Express, MTL, Piammitr, Jentana, SMIT, or any of the plethora of thai language schools they use a combination of the roman alphabet, and symbols to approximate how thai words would be pronounced in english. This method does give quick results (once you have mastered the schools method of transcription) and you will speak quickly, as well as with a high degree of understandability. Unfortunately, nothing in this country is written in phonemic transcription, so it is important to be introduced to the thai alphabet, vowel, and the toning system to progress after getting a basic understanding of the spoken language. Realize too that written thai, and spoken thai differ in both sentence construction, and words used. Things you would write in thai are often times not spoken of in the same way. For example; in colloquial thai if the subject is understood by the people speaking it is left unstated. Also many words are written language only words, and not used in colloquial speech.

I have toured 25+ thai language schools in the greater Bangkok area (mostly I go to see their teaching material, take a free lesson to gauge their ability to actually teach thai to foreigners, and meet students so I can get that school’s teaching material. Most if not all private thai language schools will not sell their books if you don't attend). As was to be expected; the schools differ widely in teaching methodology, course material, and their teachers’ ability. A school that brags they have issued the most ED visas in thailand and/or says they are the biggest thai language school in the world, may not be the best school. Just as a school that has the first placement when you search Google "thai language schools bangkok", may not be what you are looking for as far as learning the thai language. Do not confuse quantity (nor search engine optimization) with quality. They are as different as nite and day.

My suggestion is; once you’re here, tour as many schools as you can. Almost all offer a 'free lesson'; TAKE IT!! Talk to currently enrolled students in the beginner and more advanced levels. Make sure to talk to the students outside the office, where their responses aren't 'scripted' to what the school wants them to say. Look critically at the schools teaching material. Does lesson two build off the vocabulary learned in lesson one? Does it seem to you like their methodology is something you can learn from? Most people I meet who say they tried to learn thai but failed, failed for one reason only. The method used to teach thai at the school they attended did not mesh with the way that person learns things. Different people learn differently, it is a fact, not conjecture. What may work well for me, you may have difficulty with, and vice versa.

What ever you do, DON'T be in a hurry to pay for ANY schooling. This is after all Thailand, and after sales service as well as cash refunds are mostly unheard of here. Totally disregard ANY hard sell or any school that touts their method as the "best". See for yourself what bang you get for your baht. Also disregard any "special promotional pricing" that conveniently expires the day you tour the school, it's just b/s.

Should you wish a list of schools, what I believe to be the pros and cons of their methodology, and sample scans of their material (I have about 10 schools worth of text books now), don't hesitate to contact me via P/M, and I will give you my email.

Good luck, sorry the post is so long, but I hope it helps you in your quest to learn the thai language.

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the plethora of thai language schools they use a combination of the roman alphabet, and symbols to approximate how thai words would be pronounced in english.

I saw a course book from one quite large (I believe) school, and the transcription didn't even contain any indication as to the tone of each syllable.

How can students new to Thai be expected to learn a tonal language when their course material totally ignores it?

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I suspect that is because many Thai "teachers" don't really realise what they are actually pronouncing,. They pronounce the correct word automatically as that is how they learnt it. If you ask them what tone a word is then that almost all take a second or two "trying the word out" to work it out before they tell you. Worst case I saw was one Thai language school teacher telling a whole class several times that if you saw a tone mark on a word (mai ek, tho, thrii, my cat's run a wah , etc, not a phonetic transliteration mark) it meant that that word was always pronounced with that tone. No consideration for class of consonant, vowel length, haw nam, finals etc. And worse still, when challenged on it by a student, she argued that the student was was wrong and she was right before very quickly moving on to the next part of the lesson.

I know we are all imperfect but that seemed a very fundemental mistake for a "Thai teacher" to make.

(edited for a spotted fundemental spelling mistake :) there might be more)

Edited by Scottish Thailander
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Realize most thais learn to read thai by rote, not by rules. They simply re-write, and repeat a word until it is locked into their memory. As they already have the speech part hardwired in when they start learning to read, this works well for them.

I saw was one Thai language school teacher telling a whole class several times that if you saw a tone mark on a word (mai ek, tho, thrii, my cat's run a wah , etc, not a phonetic transliteration mark) it meant that that word was always pronounced with that tone. And worse still, when challenged on it by a student, she argued that the student was was wrong and she was right before very quickly moving on to the next part of the lesson.

I know a teacher of an un-named school who said that very thing during a lesson last week! Under further questioning after the class, she finally admitted to the error, but she was still adamant she was right about that rule most of the time :) so really only a partial victory. Often times when thai teachers are put on the spot they will fall back on the mindset of “I am thai, therefore I must be right (even if I am wrong)" and/or "you are a foreigner, how dare you question me". Unless you haven’t noticed; critical thinking, and/or EVER questioning a teacher are not things thais would learn in school here.

In reply to RickBradford:

Most thai language schools which rely on phonemic transcription use a variety of punctuation symbols to denote if a word carries the low, medium, high, rising or falling tones. Unfortunately as there is no single "government approved" transcription method, (and the one that is at least "semi-official" has NO built in toning system at all). That means it's up to each school to develop their own method, or with this being thailand; usually they just copy it from another school.

For example; it's very easy to tell any of the schools which derive their course structure and material from the original "Union Method" in teaching thai. It was used initially to teach foreign missionaries (Jehovah Witness, Catholic, 7th Day Adventists, and the like) who were sent here to convert the masses. All the schools which currently use this method are founded by one or more of the original Union teaching staff, (who were, when the Union school first started, very young women; but now IMHO have morphed into pretentious old hags). The text books used in those schools show the similarity in transcription, course material, and vocabulary; almost to the point of being the same course word for word with only a different cover.

While I am no fan of Benjawan Poomsan Becker (other than acknowledging she is one very shrewd business person and that single-handedly, she has probably done more to expose foreigners to the thai language than any thai national living or dead). With that being said; hers is a good example of a uniquely different yet quite understandable toning/pronunciation method. One which she uses consistently thru-out her books until she stops using transcription on the Advanced Thai book.

Just for the record:

When I first started to learn to speak thai I concentrated on only two tones; rising and falling. Those are the ones which for foreigners are most likely to go "off script" on when speaking. Pronounce ผี (ghost - phee-R) instead of พี่ (elder brother - phee-F) or เสือ (tiger - seuua-R) instead of เสื้อ (shirt - seuua-F) when you’re speaking and see what I mean. In colloquial speech, the other 3 tones (low, mid, high) are so close in pronunciation that almost to a person thais will understand which word you are saying from context of the sentence.

I know the language purists will say a high tone is markedly dissimilar to either the mid or low tone. While that is theoretically correct; unless we're trying to speak like pretentious prigs, it has little if any impact on understandability when a foreigner is speaking casually to a thai person. I’ve never had a thai mistake มา (come - maa-M) for ม้า (horse - maa-H) in conversation, (nor the other way around when I am actually talking about horses).

I try to strive for "mutually understood communication" rather than wanting to sound like a “stuck-up hi-so thai” who "rolls their r's" and over enunciates their toning so everyone knows they have an education (even if their father bought it for them).

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^^^

Sure, at the individual teacher level.

But you'd think that a large school would have someone in management who could figure out that tone is going to be one of the major hurdles to be faced by a farang student, and that it should at least be referred to in coursework.

To ignore the tones while trying to teach a tonal language seems a pretty incompetent way to proceed,,,, :)

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